Orlando — yet again — attracted droves of foreign homebuyers and retained the state’s #2 spot for international activity
The charms of our City Beautiful continue to allure homebuyers from around the globe. In fact, Orlando held steady in 2018 as the #2 destination of choice for Florida’s international homebuyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2018 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida.
Approximately 9.4 percent of all of Florida’s international homebuyers opted to purchase a property in Orlando during the profile’s August 2017 to July 2018 study period. (Orlando drew 11 percent of Florida’s international activity in the study’s 2017 period and 12 percent in 2016).
Only the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, which drew a whopping 53.7 percent of all Florida international transactions, topped Orlando as a desired destination for international homebuyers in 2018. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area came in third with 9.0 percent. Those rankings are unchanged from both 2017 and 2016.
International activity accounts for a signification percentage of Orlando’s residential real estate transactions, and by extension the Orlando economy. The profile’s results show that foreign buyers were involved approximately 11 percent of the Orlando-Sanford-Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area’s 44,000 home sales during the study period.
Orlando area international buyers in 2018 were mainly from Latin American and the Caribbean (47 percent), Europe (18 percent), and Asia (15 percent). From a nation-centric perspective, those from Brazil were involved in 20 percent of Orlando’s international transactions, while Canadian and Venezuelan nationals participated in 8 percent each. China, Columbia, and the United Kingdom each supplied 7 percent of Orlando’s international buyers in 2018.
Several countries made their first appearances on Orlando’s list of major foreign buyers in recent years: the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, France, and the Russian Federation.
International buyers contribute significantly to Orlando’s dollar volume statistic. Foreign buyer purchases tend to involve higher priced homes and accounted for 19 percent of Florida’s total residential dollar volume during the study period. That same 19 percent equates to $1.9 billion when applied to ORRA members’ $10.1 billion worth of home sales that were recorded through the MLS between August 2017 and July 2018.
International buyers are also very apt to use cash because they might not have the required U.S. credit to obtain a mortgage from a U.S. source. In fact, about 67 percent of all Florida’s international transactions in the study period were all-cash (down from 72 percent last year), with Canadians (84 percent) and United Kingdom nationals (81 percent) most likely to have gone that route.
Orlando’s international buyers purchase properties for both vacation and residential rental purposes. Those from China, Columbia, and Venezuela in particular like to take advantage of Orlando’s steady stream of tourists and invest in a rental property while those from Canada and the United Kingdom were most likely to purchase a property for private vacation use.
With its mix of resort, urban, and suburban areas, Orlando is able to accommodate foreign buyers’ ever-changing location preferences. Thirty-seven percent of Florida’s international buyers selected to purchase in a central city/urban area, with another 37 percent selecting a suburban area. Only 15 percent purchased in a resort area during the 2018 study period, down from a high of 53 percent a decade ago. This drop is consistent with the declining share of Canadian and U.K. buyers, who have traditionally preferred such locations.